Quantcast
Food

10 Healthy Reasons to Eat Yogurt

Yogurt has always had a reputation as a dietary superstar. It's been widely accepted as a healthy choice for breakfast or a snack. The fact that it's a grab-and-go food that needs no preparation has undoubtedly boosted its popularity at a time when many people are too busy or time-challenged to fix a morning meal. We've all seen the images of the svelte young woman in workout clothes, spooning up her yogurt as she dashes from the gym to the office.

Yogurt really is good for you, but watch out for what's been added to it.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Much of the hype is true. Yogurt is a probiotic, another of those trendy words in today's food conversations. Probiotics are live bacteria cultures, so-called "good bacteria." They're typically found in many dairy products, including aged cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar, fermented products like sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha tea, Japanese miso and Korean kimchi.

The main benefit claimed for probiotics is that they help regulate the digestive system, calm a queasy stomach, reduce bloating and regularize bowel function. They may be useful in treating some forms of diarrhea. Most of the other claims for their disease-treating value are a little shakier. Probiotics have been credited with reducing cholesterol and inflammation, lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system and fighting infection, staving off vaginal infections, preventing osteoporosis and even addressing some skin conditions. But much research remains to be done in those areas and it's unlikely that a probiotic supplement will be of much benefit.

Eating yogurt itself is a different matter. It's undeniably high in calcium, which is essential for strong bones, and it contains a host of other nutrients and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, iodine and zinc. Many brands add vitamin D to help absorb the calcium, a good thing. Yogurt can also be high in protein, depending on the type you buy. Greek yogurt is particularly protein-rich.

With all the touted benefits, the number of yogurts in the dairy case has proliferated, leading to a confusing array of choices—sometimes hundreds of them. Like milk, it comes in whole-milk, low-fat and non-fat versions, since yogurt is nothing  more than milk with bacterial cultures introduced to ferment it. Each can have its benefits depending on what your requirements are. But some of the choices can quickly turn a healthy food into something not much better than a junk food.

Plain yogurt is pretty, well, plain, and some may not like its sour taste. In an effort to broaden its appeal, many companies have taken to supplementing it with added ingredients, mixing it with various fruits and other flavors such as vanilla and maple. That's not necessarily bad in itself. But many yogurts also contain loads of added sweeteners, including that big food no-no, high-fructose corn syrup. Read the label and make sure yours doesn't. If sugar is the first ingredient listed, put it back. And while that yogurt with chocolate chip cookie pieces might induce your child to try some, it's probably not the best choice for an after-school snack.

A good way to avoid added ingredients that dilute yogurt's benefits is to make your own flavored yogurt. That's really not that much more complicated than popping the top off the cup. Start with the safest choice, plain organic yogurt, and toss in a handful of berries, orange sections, banana slices or nuts, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or seeds like chia, hemp and flax that add texture and fiber, or granola. All of those bring their own healthy compounds, adding more nutritional punch to that quick-and-easy yogurt meal.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

4 Things You Should Know About Probiotics

10 Best Ingredients to Include in Your Superfood Smoothies

5 Great Ways to Include Hemp Seeds in Your Daily Diet

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
An adult bush dog, part of a captive breeding program. Hudson Garcia

A Rescue Dog Is Now Helping to Save Other (Much Wilder) Dogs

By Jason Bittel

Formidable predators stalk the forests between Panama and northern Argentina. They are sometimes heard but never seen. They are small but feisty and have even been documented trying to take down a tapir, which can top out at nearly 400 pounds. Chupacabras? No.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
RoNeDya / iStock / Getty Images

What Is Mead, and Is It Good for You?

By Ansley Hill, RD, LD

Mead is a fermented beverage traditionally made from honey, water and a yeast or bacterial culture.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
U.S. Army member helps clear debris from Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. U.S. Army

Pentagon: Climate Change Is Real and a 'National Security Issue'

The Pentagon released a Congressionally mandated report (pdf) that warns flooding, drought and wildfires and other effects of climate change puts U.S. military bases at risk.

The 22-page analysis states plainly: "The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense (DoD or the Department) missions, operational plans, and installations."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Protesters interrupt the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler on Capitol Hill Jan. 16 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

5 People Calling Out EPA Acting Head Wheeler for Putting Polluters First

This week, people across the country are joining environmental leaders to speak out against the nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Scott Pruitt's hand-picked successor, Wheeler has continued to put polluters over people, most recently by using the last of his agency's funding before it expired in the government shutdown to announce plans to allow power plants to spew toxic mercury and other hazardous pollution into the air.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Great white shark. Elias Levy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Marine Biologists Raise Flags About Viral Great White Shark Encounter

By now you might have seen Ocean Ramsey's rare and jaw-dropping encounter with a great white shark in waters near Oahu, Hawaii.

Ramsey, a marine biologist, said on the TODAY Show that it was "absolutely breathtaking and heart-melting" to be approached by the massive marine mammal.

Keep reading... Show less
A tree found severed in half in an act of vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. Gina Ferazzi / Los AngelesTimes / Getty Images

Wall Before Country Takes Mounting Toll on Americans Everywhere

By Rhea Suh

One month on, the longest and most senseless U.S. government shutdown in history is taking a grave and growing toll on the environment and public health.

Food inspectors have been idled or are working without pay, increasing the risk we'll get sick from eating produce, meat and poultry that isn't properly checked. National parks and public wilderness lands are overrun by vandals, overtaken by off-road joyriders, and overflowing with trash. Federal testing of air and water quality, as well as monitoring of pollution levels from factories, incinerators and other sources, is on hold or sharply curtailed. Citizen input on critical environmental issues is being hindered. Vital research and data collection are being sidelined.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
The W. A. Parish Power Plant, owned by NRG Energy, is one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0

All Coal-Fired Power Plants in Texas Found Leaking Toxins Into Groundwater

Power plants across Texas are leaching toxins into groundwater, according to new research. A report released this week from the Environmental Integrity Project found that all of the state's 16 coal-fired power plants are leaching contaminants from coal ash into the ground, and almost none of the plants are properly lining their pits to prevent leakage.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. NPS

MLK National Park to Re-Open Despite Shutdown, Thanks to Delta

Hats off to Delta Air Lines. The company's charitable arm awarded the National Park Service an $83,500 grant to help reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta from Jan. 19 through Feb. 3 in honor of Dr. King's legacy.

The Atlanta-based airline was inspired to act after learning that some of the park's sites, including Dr. King's birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6 and the visitor center, were closed due to the partial government shutdown, now on its 28th day, according to LinkedIn post from Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!